Egret Feathers, Worth More than Gold!

Egret  Feathers,   Worth  More  than  Gold !

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

GreatWhiteEgret-Lewisville.MichaelDFox

GREAT WHITE EGRET (photo by Michael D. Fox of Lewisville, Texas)

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.  Moreover by them is Thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.   (Psalm 19:7-11)

The fine-feathered Great White Egret (a/k/a “Great Egret”) could have gone extirpated in America (i.e., regionally extinct in the USA), about a century ago,  if not for the timely intervention of the Lacey Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty.

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GREAT WHITE EGRET (photo by Dennis Skogsbergh, in Texas)

A summary of that avian conservation success story was reported earlier as “Looking Back 100 Years, at the Migratory Bird Treaty:   A Bird’s-eye View of How It was Hatched” [ https://leesbird.com/tag/migratory-bird-treaty/  ].  In fact, the fancy feathers of Great White Egrets were once worth more than gold of equal weight!

The plumes of the Great Egret and Snowy Egret were widely used to decorate women’s hats in the late 19th century [A.D.].

An ounce of egret feathers cost as much as $32 —  more than an ounce of gold at that time  —  and, as a result of overharvesting, egret populations [especially in Florida] began to decline.  Some of the first conservation legislation in North America [e.g., Lacey Act of 1900, codified at 16 U.S.C. §§ 3371-3378, a forerunner of the much-later Endangered Species Act] was enacted to outlaw the hunting of Great Egrets.  These egrets are now steadily recovering and expanding their range[s], probably to areas where they formerly nested.

The Great Egret is the symbol for the National Audubon Society, one of the oldest bird conservation organizations in the United States.   [Quoting Wayne R. Petersen & Roger Burrows, BIRDS OF NEW ENGLAND (Lone Pine Publishing, 2004), page 93.]

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GREAT WHITE EGRET (Audubon Field Guide photo)

Of course, market prices fluctuate. What is “worth more than gold” today may not be so tomorrow.  Consumer markets are fickle things:  beaver top-hats, Toys-R-Us toys, decoder rings, Bazooka Joe bubblegum, Pogo sticks, Rock ’em-Sock ’em Robots, floppy discs, etc.

However, it is a permanent truth that God’s Word is more valuable than gold:

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. . . .  the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold.  (Psalm 19:7 & 19:9b-10a)

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Col. Jeff Williams, NASA astronaut (photo credit: Space Boosters!)

In fact, I was once reminded of that truth by none other than Col. Jeff Williams, a NASA astronaut who was then in outer space, inside the International Space Station [“ISS”], during a satellite-phone-facilitated video-conference conversation (on June 17th of AD2017).  By God’s grace, my wife and I attended that special Skype-like conversation, hosted by Col. Williams’s good friend, Col. Chas Morse (USAF, retired).  The video-conference conversation was partially reported later, as “Videoconference with ISS Commander” [ http://www.icr.org/article/videoconference-with-iss-commander ].

[See also this short interviewhttp://www.icr.org/article/above-all-earth/   — as well as Michael Stamp’s article about astronaut Jeff Williams, “ISS Commander Returns from Space”, posted at  http://www.icr.org/article/iss-commander-returns-from-space/ . ]

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Col. Jeff Williams, NASA astronaut (ABC Net-Au photo credit)

But on June 17th of AD2017, the last earthbound participant in that space-to-Earth videoconference call, to ask Col. Jeff Williams an Earth-to-space question, was me.  (Of course, my wife and I will never forget that unique video-conference conversation!)

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Col Jeff Williams, NASA astronaut (ICR image, with quote)

In particular, I asked astronaut Jeff Williams about his personal appreciation for Psalm 19, which begins with a declaration that “the heavens declare the glory of God”.

After discussing the first half of Psalm 19, which speaks of the wondrous astronomical glories that God operates in the heavens, Col. Williams added that he appreciated the second half of Psalm 19 (i.e., verses 7-14) even more than the first half (i.e., verses 1-6), because Psalm 19:7-14 speaks of God’s written Word (i.e., the Holy Bible), which is even more glorious (see also Psalm 138:2b) than all of the magnificent heavens!  –  and, of crucial importance, only the Bible tells us about how our souls can be redemptively returned to God through Christ as our personal Savior.   Now that’s infinitely priceless!

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PSALM 19:10 (BiblePic.com credit)

Surely God’s Word is “more valuable than gold, yea, than much fine gold” –  and even more valuable than marketed Great White Egret feathers during the AD1800s.

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GREAT WHITE EGRET (photo by Michael D. Fox of Lewisville, Texas)


 

 

 

Sunday Inspiration – Icteridae Family II

Spot-breasted Oriole (Icterus pectoralis) ©WikiC

Spot-breasted Oriole (Icterus pectoralis) ©WikiC

“The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” (Psalms 19:9-10 KJV)

Last week we made it down through the Icteridae – Oropendolas, Orioles & Blackbirds Family to the Red-rumped Cacique. That was just about of a third of the 109 members of the family. Now the list will start with the Icterus genus, which are Orioles. In fact, those are all we will look at today. There are 33 species in that genus and most of them are orioles, except for three Troupials. Troupials (turpial in Spanish), were formerly considered one species.

Venezuelan Troupial (Icterus icterus) ©WikiC

Venezuelan Troupial (Icterus icterus) ©WikiC

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11 KJV)

New World orioles, comprising the genus Icterus, are a group of birds in the blackbird family. They are not related to Old World orioles, which are in the family Oriolidae, but are strikingly similar in size, diet, behaviour and in their strongly contrasting plumage. Could it be because they are from the same kind? Predictably, the two have been given the same vernacular name. “Oriole”

Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) Male by Nature's Hues

Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) Male by Nature’s Hues

“How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!” (Proverbs 16:16 KJV)

The males are typically black and yellow or orange, with white markings; the plumage of females and immature birds is duller. These birds go through one moult in a year. They are generally slender with long tails and a pointed bill. They mainly eat insects, but also enjoy nectar and fruit. The nest is a woven, elongated pouch. Several species are easy to attract to bird tables by the provision of cut oranges and grape jelly. Species nesting in areas with cold winters (including most of the United States) are strongly migratory, while subtropical and tropical species are more sedentary.

Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) Female by Nature's Hues

Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) Female by Nature’s Hues

“Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.” (Psalms 119:127 KJV)

The name “oriole” was first recorded (in the Latin form oriolus) by Albertus Magnus in about 1250, and was stated by him to be onomatopoeic, from the song of the European Golden Oriole.

The genus name Icterus as used by classical authors, referred to a bird with yellow or green plumage. In modern times this has been identified as the golden oriole. (Notes are from Gutenberg’s Icterus (Genus) with editing.)

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“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:7-9 KJV)

 

“It Is Well With My Soul” by Sean Fielder [Hacked]

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Sunday Inspiration

Sunday Inspiration –  Icteridae Family I

Icteridae – Oropendolas, Orioles & Blackbirds Family

Appreciating Baltimore Orioles and My First Bird Book

Icterus (Genus) – Gutenberg

Icterid – Wikipedia

Gospel Message

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